Working – An Excerpt from Straight Dope

Here is an excerpt from my first book, Straight Dope: A 360 degree look into American Drug Culture

When I graduated high-school, I was finished with going to class. I had enough of being told what to do, what place I had to report to, what time to be there, and what kind of man I was shaping up to be. I just had enough of that shh, so after I graduated, I said, “F college, I am going to take a break, get a job, and make some money.” Saying this now makes me realize how foolish I was, but hey you couldn’t tell me anything. There was a quote from an outtake of the film “American Gangster” – “Even a fool was young once.” And I was both.

After coasting from one shitty job to another and, attempting commit whatever petty crime I could to keep money in my pocket without asking Mom or Dad for some, I started doing day labor. Now you may ask yourself, “Is day laboring when you stand outside a Home Depot looking dirty, yet strong, but desperate for a job?” No, but you are pretty close. Day laboring is when you get up hella early, sometimes 4 or 5am to catch an hour long bus ride to some filthy, dingy office, take a seat amongst drunks, addicts, homeless folks, and other wanderers, and wait until or if you are called for a job. These assignments could range anywhere from custodial work, food prep, construction, field jobs, and just about any manual labor that a company needed to get done. There were some light office jobs, but those were usually saved for the ladies who were “extra” chummy with those who dished out the assignments. The thing that made these companies attractive for this lot was that they knew what kind of worker would sign up. These were folks who were living on the edge or as a family member would say, “On that end.” Most of the time, the worker was an addict of something and needed this daily pay to feed his habit. So he or she would get up whenever they could, hurry down to the office, and work their asses off, all in the name of the pipe/bottle/needle/dimebag/whatever. If you asked me, it kept them off the streets, not breaking into my house. And the office workers knew that, so no matter how bad they treated the worker (and they were treated bad), there was never a need for workers. The people were always there, waiting, hoping to get a job. How my dumbself ended up in the manual labor line with writing and technical prowess? Well see the quote in the first paragraph.

One particular day I could recall, I was broke and needed some money bad. It was for some reason, and I could not get off some goods I had came across, so I decided to head down to the office. This was during the afternoon, as I knew I stood a better chance picking up a job because the daytime shifts were done. After waiting for an hour, I was selected to work at a garage door plant. This was a gig way out in Olathe, KS; a Kansas City suburb that I hated going to because they hated my kind (ie Black folks), but it was paying some crazy amount and like I said, I was broke. The interesting thing about these placement firms is that if you did not have a way to get there, you could car pool with someone and they would be paid extra. So with that incentive, there was always someone trying to play taxi. The thing about this job was that it was overnight, so you had a find a way to stay up on your feet and work on a machine line. I didn’t know how I was going to do stay up, but other folks had other ways.

I was paired up with one other younger guy who was on the quiet side and this couple who provided the transportation. Looking at the pair, only one word came to mind: scraggly. I mean these folks didn’t like anything but crackheads. Dirty, faded clothes; possibly missing at least 20 pounds; teeth were a deep yellow; and their demeanor just screamed, “Watch yourself and your stuff.” I looked at them and scoffed like, “You have got to be kidding, right?” But who am I to look down on someone, I am working at the same place y’all are! So we leave and the couple is just talking back and forth, going a mile a minute, not pausing for anything but a drag on the cigarette. The car was a small beat up Nissan that they had been holding onto for a minute with faded paint. When we arrived at the plant, they guy parked the car and grabbed a crack pipe from somewhere. The younger guy that I was sitting next to nudged me to close my eyes and plug my nose. The couple took a couple of hits and I tell you, to this day I have never smelled anything like it. I cannot describe what crack smelled like. I wasn’t shocked that I seen someone smoking, but it was that smell. So distinct. I am telling you, it was unreal. After they finished, the couple started to eat this nasty combination of tuna and crackers. I guess they needed their protein after (I know bad joke, I know). We then exited the car and started work. I guess I figured out how they stayed up all night working.

After standing on my feet for almost 12 hours, drinking crazy amounts of coke, and eating sweet (yet very tasty) cinnamon rolls, I returned home about 70 something dollars richer. When I went inside my house, my Mom asked me how my day was, and I don’t even remember if I said anything. I just went to sleep and woke up 24 hours later. The next day I immediately filled out some financial aid apps, looked up some schools and proceeded to go to college. Working with crackheads aint the business.

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